Revisiting Law School Admissions: What You Should Know, How to Approach Applications, and How to Decide Where to Attend

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Hello, World.

Now that we’re into October, I thought this would a good time to discuss law school admissions again. I’ve discussed the various aspects of law school admissions before, but I always think it’s a good idea to revisit topics, rather than just refer you back to my old tips. Given that I’m currently in my second year of law school, I also feel I have a different perspective on law school admissions. There are questions that I didn’t ask that I now wish I would have. There are factors I didn’t consider that I wish I did. You get the idea. So, today I wanted to share with you my thoughts on law school admissions now that I’m two cycles removed from the process.

When I was applying to law school, I was so sure that law school was the logical next step for me. I went through the process thinking I was on top of it, asking all the right questions and doing all the right things. However, hindsight is 20/20 and I know now there were things I would have done differently given what I know now.

In terms of what you should know about applications, I say this: I’m becoming more and more convinced admissions at any level is random. While schools say they have an objective method of choosing students, some admissions officers may see something in an application that others wouldn’t. I was watching some YouTube videos the other day when I was bored and had been in the black hole that is YouTube browsing far too long. The videos were current high school seniors or college freshman talking about their experiences with admissions. After the fourth video of someone being denied from top universities — Yale, Harvard, etc. and then getting into Stanford and Columbia, or being rejected from Harvard but admitted at Yale and waitlisted at Princeton– I decided admissions is random. There’s no “hard science” as to why students do or don’t get into a school. I also watched a video from a former Stanford admissions officer, and the process of how they look at applicants is intense. While this is all for undergrad, I will say I believe the methods carry over to graduate level admissions as well, but I do recognize that the applicants may be more diverse (people who took a gap year, people who have legal experience or have none, etc.). So, apply where you want to apply, but know that if you don’t get into a school, it is nothing personal. You will get into a great school and you will be happy.

To continue on to how to approach applications, I say this: you have been creating your application by making the choices you made in college and beyond. Your application consists of the following: general information, personal statement, LSAT score, letters of recommendation. The general information is easiest, obviously, because it’s simple data: name, address, sex, family information, etc.

The personal statement is trickier. I read book after book of “successful” personal statements. I wanted to get an idea of what makes an application stand out in this realm. However, the most important thing is that the statement is well-written. The admissions committee wants to know you can write concisely, coherently, and effectively. You should pick a topic that explains who you are as a person and why choosing law is logical and a clear choice for you. You don’t necessarily have to explain why the law is the right fit, but I do recommend folding it in somehow – even if it’s subtle. I also recommend bringing out character traits you possess that will 1) contribute something unique to the class and 2) make you a successful lawyer. Law schools want people who will make strong alumni, so they want to be confident you will succeed in law school.

In terms of LSAT scores, they’re important. Depending on where you’re applying, they may be more or less important. I say choose your reach school and aim for their median score. It’s always better to aim higher than lower. However, know that you can get into a school with a lower-than-their-average score. You can also not get into a school that you have a higher-than-their-average score. So, just know that you want to get a competitive score, but know that the score will not make or break your score. I recommend taking a prep course that is in-person. I also recommend studying more than you think you need to. Take as many practice exams as possible, and take them in exam-like conditions (timed, quiet room, etc.).

Finally, the letters of recommendation are important. Honestly, what people who have had the chance to teach your or work with you have to say is informative and important for admissions officers. I had three letters of recommendation for each application and I know that the people I chose wrote strong letters. It’s important to think about who you want to write your letters and what they will say. I, like most, recommend asking professors, supervisors, etc. At the end of the day, letters of recommendation may sway admissions officers one way or the other. Sure, you have great numbers and credentials, but maybe the letter is generic and could easily be about any student. However, there is a student with similar numbers and credentials as you, but who has personalized, amazing recommendations form important figures on her campus. That student, if I had to guess, is more likely to stand out in a pile of applications.

So, once your applications are in and you get your decisions back, it’s time to consider where you want to attend. I decided fairly early where I wanted to go. There was one school that may have changed my mind, but as luck would have it, I was waitlisted there. When deciding where to attend, I recommend choosing a school that has great, welcoming faculty. This, on the surface, may seem to be offered everywhere. However, attend admitted students days, go to presentations, do research to see how many lawyers teach courses in the areas of law in which you’re interested. You should also consider the courses available – is there a lot in your area? Another important note: look at clinics available and see if there is one that you want to do. I didn’t look very in-depth at clinics, and now I kind of wish I would have. You should also consider how many externship opportunities are available. Externships are a great way to get experience on your resume during the school year while earning class credit.

Another important consideration is the student body. You’re going to be spending three hyper-intense, stressful years with people and you want to be sure that you’ll enjoy the company of your peers. Talk to current students, talk to students who plan to attend with you, and talk to alumni from your undergrad who now attend the school. If you’re out of state, ask people who moved from your state to that school how they like it and if they’d recommend it.

I think there are four questions I would have asked that I didn’t in terms of career services.

  1. How many people did you place in x state at a firm job?
  2. How many people spent their summers in x state at a firm?
  3. Of the student who summered at firms their second summer, how many were outside the top 20%?
  4. What resources do you have on-campus for people conducting an out-of-state job search?

There is a surprising amount of confusion when it comes to searching for jobs. While jobs may seem super far away during the application stage, it’s something important to consider because the point of going to law school is to get the job you want when you’re done… and a large percentage of people get their post-grad offers at the end of their second summer. So, jobs are important and you want to make sure that you’re applying and getting into schools that have the resources to make getting your dream job early easier!

While there is a lot more I could say, I recommend doing thorough research and figuring out where to attend based on your gut. I know it sounds cheesy, but sometimes the right decision comes down to a feeling. You feel it’s right and you go with it. I should say: if you get to school and feel you made a mistake, transfer after your first year. You should weight whether transferring is right or not… but if you decide to transfer, do so after your first year. If you transfer any later your degree is from your original school and you get a certificate from the second institution! A few transferred from my law school, and I think sometimes there is a stigma that transferring is bad. However, I think it’s worse to stay somewhere that isn’t the right fit.

What is the worst part of applying to law school?

Truly,
Callie leigh

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My Favorite Fall Candles

Hello, World!

My favorite part of fall is finding the best candles. There are so many great scents that sometimes it’s hard to choose! I usually go into Bath & Body Works because they always have great deals on candles, and year after year I find a few scents I love. Last year I got salted caramel, which was to die for, and caramel woods, which was smoky, but caramel-y and sweet.

This year, Bath & Body Works had all their candles marked down from $24.00 to $12.50, then a few weeks later they had a deal where you bought one and got one free, which was great. My favorite scents this fall are…

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Bourbon Maple is delicious. I like candles that you smell and immediately think, “yes, that’s the smell of x season.” This candle is woodsy, warm, and sweet all at the same time! I prefer deeper, woodsy scents, so I was happy to find this one. 367A8131-601A-466B-92BC-E44DC92332B1.jpg

To be honest, Leaves is my absolute favorite. It’s the candle I get every year because, to me, it perfectly captures the smell of fall. I usually burn Leaves until winter, then I switch to ‘Tis the Season, which is more apple and Christmas scented. unnamed.jpg

This is a subtle candle but smells amazing. I think anything with ‘donut’ in the title would have to be subtle because it could become overpowering quickly! Excuse my chipped nails… law school doesn’t leave much time for primping.

What are your favorite fall scents?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Easy Halloween Outfits

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Hello, World.

Halloween is just around the corner, though how it’s already that time of the year is unclear. In light of the approaching holiday, I wanted to share some quick, easy costumes ideal for those of us who don’t have time to put together an elaborate costume and don’t want to spend $70 on an outfit we will wear once [Halloween costumes have seriously gone up and it’s a little ridiculous]. So, I’ve put together four outfits you can likely find at your local thrift store, any Forever 21 Store for a bargain,  or your own closet.

First up: The Pink Lady. This iconic costume came into being after Grease and has stayed popular ever since. Grab yourself a pink jacket, some leather pants, pumps, and a silk scarf and you’re good to go!

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Second, Cher from Clueless… As if! The key to a great Cher costume is mixing extremely feminine touches with classic 90s pieces. I guess its a good thing 90s trends are making a comeback (hello, velvet and chokers!). The look below is a more subdued look than the signature yellow plaid outfit. This look is complete with a furry pen, cross necklace, knee highs, and Mary Jane shoes. Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 6.16.37 PM

I recently watched the new Gal Gadot Wonder Woman movie… I know, I’m late to the party. Still, I loved it! I was inspired to create a fun Wonder Woman look. Carry a fake sword so you can take on Ares, over-the-knee boots in red (or black or pewter). Find a red corset or red bodysuit, and match with the signature blue and white star skirt for a 20 minute look. Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 6.41.48 PM

Inspired by one of my close friends, Rossy, I’ve put together a DJ look! I imagine this is what an aspiring, kick ass DJ would wear (mainly because I could see Rossy wearing this look and she fits the bill). Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 7.45.41 PM

What are you going as for Halloween? Do you prefer store-bought or homemade costumes?

Truly,

Callie leigh

Intoducing the Warby Parker Archive Collection

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Hello, World.

While some people may say that a new hair color, colored contacts, or a great new outfit can make someone feel like a new person, I’m of the opinion that a great pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses can add just the right touch to your look. Although I don’t wear my glasses every day, I always enjoy picking out new frames. One of my favorite places to get new frames? Warby Parker. Warby Parker is a great company that designs chic, affordable frames if you’re in need of a new pair of eyeglass. Many eyeglass frames offered at your optometrist or other sellers are so expensive, and often the design selection is limited. Warby Parker, however, produces young, unique designs for under $100 (!!!). Warby Parker not only has a great selection of eyeglasses but also carries various sunglasses styles as well.

A few weeks ago in my business associations class, we were talking about social responsibility for companies, and Warby Parker immediately popped into my head. Not only do they offer amazing prices for designer eyewear, they also give a pair of glasses every time you buy a pair. The mission of Warby Parker is one I stand behind 100%, which is why I’m so thrilled to share the new Archive Collection with you today!

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The Archive Collection is a group of mixed-material frames that are hand-assembled and hand-finished by a master craftsman in Japan. The Collection includes five new styles in seven color combinations that are so distinctive you’re unlikely to find such unique frames elsewhere. Just in time for fall, the collection features Rosewood Tortoise and Burnt Amber Tortoise with Navy, Auburn, and Merlot hues. One thing that always irritates me about my glasses is when they start to slip over time, but the new Collection from Warby Parker has adjustable silicone nose pads for an easy, anti-slip fit. To celebrate the launch of the new Collection, I put together some outfits that I would wear with the various frames! I think the subtle, but distinct details of the styles allow them to pair nicely with casual outfits or more polished outfits.

First up in my outfit pairings is the Webster frame that features chic tortoise and a navy rim. I adore this frame because I think it has a vintage look with a modern twist. Wireframes seem to be a thing of the past, but they’re definitely making a come back, and I’m loving the trend. I think tortoise makes any frame more versatile, and I adore pairing tortoise with navy, along with the clear bridge! Fun fact? I don’t always wear my glasses because I think they make my nose look bigger. If you suffer from the same issue, a clear bridge will likely alleviate that problem! I would wear this frame with the outfit below, which features rich textures, such as suede, leather, and chunky knits. I think this outfit would be great for studying all day and heading to a cozy dinner in the evening!

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Next up is the Dewey frame, which honestly… what’s not to love? I have a wider face, and this frame’s arched corners would likely compliment my face shape! I love the merlot hues paired with gold finishes and a darker tortoise. I think this frame would be perfect for fall days studying or working followed by pumpkin patch visits and cozying up with apple cider donuts! My outfit inspiration for this frame comes from spending an afternoon wandering the cobblestone streets of a European inspired town. Burgundy over-the-knee boots compliment the merlot rim, gold details in the bag and watch bring out the golden tones in the frame. I also love pairing tailored pieces with chunky knits! The two textures can be unconventional and distinctive, which I think is the perfect outfit to pair with the new Dewey frame.

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The Carraway sunglasses are so classic, especially in black with a small golden detail on the bridge. The sunglasses are a pair I could see being a staple for years to come that never fade from style. I paired them with a casual look to show they can be dressed down or worn with a classic black dress and pearls. Either look would compliment the frame. However, I like them with a lightweight sweatshirt, boyfriend jeans, two-tone tote, and leopard slide loafers. Mixing patterns and textures in the outfit makes classic sunglasses a must!

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The thing I like most about the Archive Collection is the how versatile each frame is. I think regardless of which frame your purchase, it can be worn daily with anything in your closet. Glasses are an accessory many people forget about. If you’re a young professional like me, wearing outfits that are “business casual” or slightly more formal than your typical everyday look, I think the Archive Collection offers amazing options for frames. I love the Webster frame with a tortoise rim and black on top. Sleek but bold, the frame can easily be paired with a funky blazer, crisp blouse, jeans, loafers, and your briefcase. I describe this look as the “What she tackles, she conquers” look, which would be worn while prepping for a job interview, while getting coffee with a networking contact, or meeting with other young professionals!

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I would highly recommend checking out the new Archive Collection because Warby Parker offers great eyeglasses and sunglasses for the new season. The mission behind the company is what initially attracted me to their glasses, but the beautiful designs and unique color combinations are what keep me coming back.

What do you think of the new collection?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Stylish Academic’s Guide to: Making the End of the Year a New Adventure

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Hello, World.

I saw a few tweets recently that said something to the effect of, “90 days left in 2017, make them count.” This made me think about how my favorite time of the year is also the end of the year. I live for October, November, and December. As soon as the leaves change, the air gets chillier, and I need a jacket to go outside, I immediately get giddy. Still, everyone always acts like the only time you can have a new beginning is in January, when the magic of the holiday season is supposed to wear off and we’re supposed to go back to reality. I’m all for new year’s goals or resolutions, but I think we can work to be better throughout the year.

So, I wanted to share my thoughts on making the end of the year count! Although many people are very busy with school, life, and holiday obligations, we should make time for new things and new traditions. I think Serena van der Woodsen once said, “traditions aren’t traditions if they’re new,” and while I agree with the statement on face value alone, I do believe we can and should start new traditions. So, rather than simply go through the motions of the holiday season and the end of the year, one way to turn the end into a beginning is by actively pursuing new traditions and memories.

One thing I’ve always wanted to do is go apple picking – it looks so fun and seems like the essence of fall. My roommate and I are hoping to go in a few weekends! So, while I could easily not go apple picking and instead spend those hours working on law school-related obligations, I’m choosing to take a few hours to make memories and enjoy the season! The end of the year always goes so quickly – it makes the first few months of the year feel like they took forever. So, it’s important to slow down, enjoy the moments, and make sure you’re making the most of the time.

One of the tweets I saw recently said, “90 days left of 2017. Make the most of it!” So, if there are resolutions you didn’t complete or you wanted to do things this year you didn’t do, don’t wait and just add them to next year’s goals list. You still have time to make a change. Whether it was giving your two weeks notice, applying for the job you’ve always wanted, going to a movie alone, overcoming your fear of rejection and applying to the reach school, ditching graduate school plans, or taking the plunge and applying Oxford, etc. There are many things that we tell ourselves we will do come January 1, but by December 31 we somehow say, “Oh, didn’t happen this year. I’ll just have that goal roll over to next year…” until suddenly its ten years later and we’re wondering why we didn’t do it sooner because it’s too late now. So, do what you’ve always wanted to do! Do not let the “end of the year” be an ending. Rather, use the time that is left in 2017 to accomplish your goals, try something new, or continue traditions but make them better.

How do you make the most of the final months of the year?

Truly,

Callie leigh

My Fall Wishlist

Hello, World.

As I write this, I’m sipping a venti chai latte (hot, of course, as we’re well into September) and wearing a cardigan, despite the fact it’s still 80 degrees outside. I keep seeing northeastern bloggers going apple picking, snapping fall foliage, and wearing chunky sweaters. I almost burn up wearing a cardigan and it’s nearly October! Anyway, I’m trying to get into the fall spirit and would like to share a little fall wishlist with some pieces I’d love to add to my closet this year. I love the cozy, brisk mornings of fall, but I have yet to experience one… here are pieces that are getting me excited for the day it feels like fall.

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Baseball Cap | Leopard Flats | Green Belt | Patagonia Fleece Hoodie | Patagonia Popover | Burnt Orange Sweater | J. Crew Bell Sleeve Top| Monogram Leather Gloves | Cashmere Beanie | Over the Knee Boots | Barbour Plaid Scarf 

I love over the knee boots… ever since Serena van der Woodsen wore a gray, suede pair with her Constance uniform. I have only owned one pair, but I’m tempted to invest in another pair this season. They look so good with skirts, bare-legged on not-quite-cold- days! I also love the fuzzy Patagonia fleeces, but I have yet to invest in one. Speaking of which, I also love burnt orange! I think it’s the quintessential fall color.

What styles are you loving this season?

Truly,

Callie leigh

Read this when… Someone Massively Disappoints You

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Hello, World.

A few weeks back, I published a post called, “read this when you feel like quitting.” I like the concept of “read this when…” articles, so I thought I might make a series out of them and offer my advice on pivotal moments that happen that lead to a need for encouragement. Hopefully, I can be that encouragement for you when the things that I write about happen (when you feel like quitting or when someone disappoints you).

If you read my article on dating, you know I have “unrealistic expectations” about relationships. When I was younger, and well into adulthood, people have also told me I set too high of a bar for friends and other people in my life. I’m impossible to please. I, personally, don’t think this is true, but do we ever think negative things about ourselves are true? Regardless, I do expect a certain amount of respect, understanding, compassion, and authenticity from the people in my life. If someone misses the point and allows me to second guess their intentions, their character, or their investment in our relationship, I will cut them off. Cold turkey.

This might seem harsh, and it probably is, but as I’ve gotten older, I do not stand for being made to feel silly, unimportant, or betrayed. I don’t really throw the “bully” word around with much frequency, but I didn’t have an easy childhood when it came to friends. I was consistently friends with people who made me unsure of where I stood. Would I walk into class and have my best friend smile or glare at me? Then there was the time in middle school that I got to school and no one would talk to me and no one would tell me why they weren’t talking to me. It was like the scene in Gossip Girl when Serena is trying to talk to Nate after Blair finds out about Serena and Nate’s hookup, and Nate literally refuses to acknowledge Serena. He just won’t speak or look at her. I’ve been there and it’s the worst feeling in the world. I later found out that some girl was annoyed at my friendship with her friend, so lied and told her that I had said a bunch of stuff I had never said. Classy, right?

Then came high school and friends weren’t much better there. I had a few people who I really liked, but some hurt me and I continued to be wary of trusting friends too much. Then came college and holy shit. I had female friends that were badasses who I trusted wholeheartedly and who were so positive. They also communicated with me when we did have disagreements or something happened that hurt one of us. It wasn’t me guessing what I did. Instead, my trusty friends said simply and calmly, “hey, you did a thing, it hurt me, and I want to talk about it.” So we talked about it. We apologized when we knew we should, talked about misunderstandings when they were the cause of the argument, and validated each other’s feelings. It was crazy.  I mean, who knew female friendships where you built each other up and respected each other existed? Before college, I didn’t know they did. I don’t want to glorify my college friends, but most people pale in comparison to them if I’m transparent. But what I want to talk about today is the moments when you get that call or text or cold shoulder that you don’t understand and how to handle it.

We don’t intentionally hurt people (unless you’re a psycho, in which case you have bigger problems). However, sometimes we just do. We just hurt people because of a miscommunication, misunderstanding, etc. When we’ve hurt someone, we have to be accountable for that. It’s not a matter of right or wrong, it’s a matter of recognizing you hurt someone and apologizing and trying to understand their point of view. The absolute worst thing you can do when someone expresses that you hurt them is getting defensive and saying, “I’m sorry you’re hurt.” That’s essentially the most mansplaining way of apologizing. So, what happens on the flip side? When we haven’t hurt or disappointed them but they hurt or disappointed us?

Well, let me begin that conversation by offering a little anecdote. When I was an RA, my team and I had a strategy for dealing with residents who broke the rules. Rather than say, “I’m so mad at you! How could you?!” or get really heated, we said calmly, “I’m just disappointed.” There is something in the word disappointment that hits people in the gut. Well, it hits them in the gut if they respect you enough that they don’t want to disappoint you. So, when residents acted out, we pulled that ever-present parent card of “you disappointed me.” That line elicited far more actual apologies than anger, annoyance, etc. The residents who didn’t apologize didn’t really like me, so I wasn’t surprised when they didn’t apologize or express upset at disappointing me.

In friendships, we hurt people. Friendships with no disagreement are like relationships where the couple never argues. It seems fake and unrealistic (see? I don’t think perfection is indicative of strong friendships or relationships!). When you’re friends with someone, especially for a long time, you’re probably going to have issues at some point. There are certain areas that lead to conflict in friendships: religious differences, political differences, moral differences, personality differences, the girl code, etc. I remember when Landon on Southern Charm said there was no girl code, and I disliked her even more than I already did. No wonder she doesn’t have many female friends, right? She doesn’t believe in having respect for other women’s relationships and lives. All of the differences can be mitigated. Your friend is very religious and you aren’t? Well, if religion isn’t discussed 24-7 it probably won’t be an issue, especially if you have mutual respect for each other’s beliefs. However, there are some things you just can’t come back from and that is when that gut-wrenching, head spinning feeling of disappointment washes over you.

I’ve woken up feeling hungover on more than one occasion, and not because I drank too much, but because someone I considered a friend massively disappointed me. It’s a terrible feeling, but you know what’s worse? When you bring that disappointment and hurt to their attention and they explain your feelings away. Like I said earlier, conflict in friendships should never be about who is right or who is wrong. It should be about understanding why and how the person is hurting, apologizing for causing that, and acknowledging that regardless of intention, the hurt happened. Apologizing to a friend isn’t about going through the motions. If the words, “I apologized, what more do you want?” leave your friend’s mouth when you’re hurting, take a good, long look at them, appreciate the good moments, and then walk away because they were never really your friend. Your feelings are not an inconvenience and even if they believe that your hurt is irrational, they should care enough to make it right, genuinely and fully. The ‘friend’ doesn’t get to decide whether or not she hurt you, all that she gets to decide is how to make it right and if she fails, she fails. A good friend will listen and apologize when you’re hurt. She doesn’t get the right to say what is and isn’t hurtful to a person. When a friend wrongs you, s/he loses the right to tell you s/he didn’t wrong you.

The feeling of disappointment that comes after an argument with a friend is hard to recover from and feels a bit like you’re just floating, weightless and unsure, trying to find a firm footing, but realizing the rug’s been pulled from beneath you. Trying to recover is difficult. My advice when someone massively disappoints you? Allow them a chance to explain. If they are receptive to your hurt, attempt to understand, and genuinely say you are important to them and that they will make it right, give them another chance but be cautious. If, however, they explain away your feelings, tell you or imply you’re irrational, or insist hurt is a matter of right and wrong, you have the answer you needed and that answer is that your life will be better, healthier, and more positive without their influence. Again, it can be a very difficult battle to fight the urge to let someone like that back in because you — at one point — thought they were important. I’m here to tell you, they are not. In ten years, you’ll be happy you let them go now. This is an active step, which helps you lead a more active life.

How did you deal with a friend disappointing you?

For more on toxic friends, see here.

Truly,
Callie leigh

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Contacting Professors

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Hello, World.

I’m completely unconvinced that October begins Sunday. For starters, it’s still 80 degrees, sometimes 90, on most days. I have yet to be able to wear a sweatshirt comfortably. Though my fall candles are working wonders for convincing me it’s fall, the weather and mother nature has different ideas. However, we are well into the school year, so I guess fall is here? Regardless, I thought now would be a good time to offer my top four tips for contacting professors. When I started college, I believed that I should go to office hours, connect with my professors, and get to know them. Professors are great people (most of the time), and they enjoy when students try to meet with them and show an interest in the course. However, some professors are difficult to locate. They have office hours, but each time you arrive at their office during the specified hours, they are nowhere to be found. How do you combat this issue? I’m so glad you asked. Talking to them after class is usually a starting point. However, shooting them an email is usually a good way to start if they’re also one of the professors who peace out right when class ends. If you have a professor who is really bad at email — this happens more than you think — try a carrier pigeon or handwritten letter… Just kidding. If that is the case, tracking them down right after class is usually most effective. If they leave quickly, catch up with them, and talk until they reach whatever their destination is.

If you have a professor who is really bad at email — this happens more than you think — try a carrier pigeon or handwritten letter… Just kidding. If that is the case, tracking them down right after class is usually most effective. If they leave quickly, catch up with them, and talk until they reach whatever their destination is. In this situation, cut the small talk and lead with the purpose for talking to them (i.e., “I’m thinking about writing about the intersection of passivity and the tension between freedom and confinement in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but I’m having trouble reconciling…”). This way, they can answer the question quickly because you aren’t asking just as they have to say goodbye.

Now, let’s turn to email. Email is the most common way to contact professors. Whether you’re communicating solely over email or you’re attempting to schedule an in-person meeting, there are 4 tried and true steps to make sure the professor is available, for setting up a meeting and fostering a relationship with them. Cultivating strong relationships with professors is important because they will be your letters of recommendation for continuing education or for jobs upon graduation. Additionally, if you’re as lucky as I was, your professors are also awesome people who share a common love (i.e., your major/passion/hobby). So, how do you contact them?

Step One: Say hello, introduce yourself if necessary (if you’re in a really large class and your professor doesn’t know you and won’t recognize your name).

Step Two: Explain why you’re contacting them. Would you like to set up a meeting? Would you like him or her to offer feedback on your paper topic? Would you like them to review a draft (if they’ve offered this)?

Step Three: Reiterate that you enjoy the class and are hoping to learn more. 

Step four: Close with a suggestion of when you would like to meet or when you would need the answer to your questions. So, if your paper is due Friday and you email them Monday, say, “I hope to receive your feedback by Wednesday evening so I have time to incorporate your suggestions into my final draft.” While this may seem pushy, professors are busy people, so a little nudge or time limit is helpful for both you and them. If they know it’s pressing, they will prioritize it better. There’s nothing worse than them giving you feedback that you don’t have time to include. When they read your final they will likely point out the lack of whatever they suggested.

Here is a sample email to a professor. This is an email I would send to my college professors if I wanted to meet with them. Emailing professors is especially important if their office hours conflict with your schedule. This email assumes you are in a big class or it is very early in the semester. If you clearly know your professor, you can forgo specifying which class you are in, and instead jump into the body of the email. The email also assumes your professor is difficult to meet with, but if you know they’re willing to meet with students, you can give an abbreviated summary of your paper and issue. The summary of what you want to discuss is important for two reasons. First, the professor could (in theory) prepare for the meeting better if he knows what you wish to discuss. Second, if they are hard to reach, you cut out back and forth emails. If they respond that they cannot meet, the can at least answer your questions in the same email.

Hello, Professor James, I am Callie Coker and I am in your Tuesday%2FThursday Intro to Literary Criticism course. I am working on my paper that is due Friday, and I had a couple questions that I would like to discuss w.png

So, there you have my steps for contacting a professor. I think it’s important to show that you care, that you want to learn, and you aren’t asking them to help you because you’ve procrastinated and are now panicking.

How do you contact professors? Have you ever felt nervous or scared to reach out to a professor?

Truly,

Callie leigh

 

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Living an Active Life: How to Avoid Passivity

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Hello, World.

Do you ever feel as if you’re watching your life go by and you don’t have control of over it anymore? It’s funny how frequently I hear people say, “How is it almost October already?” “Where did the summer go?” etc. I mean, I’ve gone as far as to think, “Where did college go?” I just don’t understand where the time went. I’m only twenty-three, but sometimes it feels as if my life is just going by as I focus on getting the next thing. However, I think we are all worried that we’re going to be so focused on the next thing that we forget to enjoy the moment right now. I was also watching a movie or TV show (I can’t remember) where one of the characters said something to the effect of, “stop acting like this is all happening to you. Stop acting like you haven’t played a role.”

However, I think sometimes we do let things just happen. We don’t really take an active role in our lives and suddenly we’re living a passive existence where things are happening and we’re just taking them as they come without really thinking much further. It’s hard to know when we allow passivity to consume us. Sometimes we blame it on other things: “I can’t deal with that right now, so I just won’t.” “I’m focusing on my career so I don’t have time to deal with that.” “I cannot possibly date because I haven’t had good luck recently and I don’t want to get hurt again.” “I won’t be friends with someone who makes me feel bad.” We have justifications regarding why we aren’t taking active steps in some aspect of our lives.

However, Elena Gilbert from The Vampire Diaries, who wasn’t my favorite character, but had some great dialogue, once said, “Don’t take risks. Stick with the status quo. No drama; now is just not the time. But my reasons aren’t reasons, they’re excuses.” This statement was said when she told Stefan, her almost-boyfriend at the time, what she would write in her diary about them. While it probably seems super dramatic out of context, Elena’s words have depth. Life is so much easier when we don’t take risks or when we play by the rules and take the safe, knowable route. However, I doubt wildly successful people, those so-called “household names” became such by playing the safe game. They undoubtedly took risks and defied the status quo. While none of us want drama in our lives, sometimes facing things that we’re unhappy with will lead to a better life. It’s important to stand up for yourself, to take active steps toward finding out who you should trust and who shouldn’t. We all want to live our best lives and that’s difficult to do when we refuse to take chances, put ourselves out there, and accept that disappointment is inevitable. If we live life with the purpose of never being disappointed we will make regret inevitable. When we’re ninety, looking back on our lives, we will most likely think, “I wonder if I had done x, y would have happened.”

People tell us we shouldn’t have regrets. People also tell us that everything happens for a reason. How do we reconcile things that happen when we do regret something? People say, “Oh, everything happens for a reason, even if you can’t see the reason right now.” Honestly, I’m someone who thinks this way and I never thought it had a negative side until recently. Until recently, I thought “karma will get that person,” or “my time isn’t now, so I’ll wait for my turn.” But then, while walking down the street one afternoon, “Home” by Chelsea Lankes blasting through my earbuds, I had a thought that stopped me in my tracks. Literally, I stopped walking, looked around, and thought, “hmmm. That’s new.” My thought was this: we regret the things we had complete control over and chose passivity or inaction instead.

There have been many times in my life when I did everything possible to make something happen and the thing didn’t work out (relationship, friendship, job application, academic application, etc.). When I fail initially, but then something does work out its much easier to say everything happens for a reason, and move on because something better came along eventually. However, when I knew I could make something happen, but allowed fear or anxiety control my actions, and rather than make it happen, I just… froze, watched the situation play out as if it was someone else’s life, moved on and didn’t give it much thought until I had a pit in my stomach that felt a lot like regret. It’s hard to be active in all aspects of our lives. It’s hard to make ourselves vulnerable, give someone else a little power over any aspect of our life, or put yourself out into the world and give it the power to crush you. Most people don’t want to relinquish control, but sometimes we have to if we want to expand, grow, change, and adapt. So, how do we overcome passivity?

Well, revising your life to be more active is similar to revising a paper to get rid of passive voice. You have to be strategic, you have to look for the problem, you have to address the problem when you see it, and you have to have confidence that the change is a correction. So, when you like someone, let them know. When you want the job, do everything in your power to get it. When you want to go to Harvard, work your ass off. When you want to move to that city, visit, make connections and do the thing. If what you want doesn’t pan out after all the work, maybe it wasn’t meant to be. However, if you put in the work, and it works out, you won’t regret it. Even if you discover later that what you wanted isn’t what you needed, you can make a change. Going after something with your whole heart won’t lock you in forever, but it will surely prevent those moments when we’re ninety, writing in our diaries about how sad we are we didn’t call that guy (Hello, “the one who got away”), or we didn’t go after the promotion in year two instead of year ten, or we didn’t live in New York for a few years, or we waited until it was too late to cut a toxic friend from our lives. Disappointment is evitable, but don’t allow your fear of disappointment dictate your life… it will only create inevitable regret.

How do you cultivate a more active life?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Prepping for Finals Early

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Hello, World.

Even though it’s only September, the months in a given semester go quickly, so I wanted to offer my advice regarding how to prep for finals early. This is sort of an extension of my post about steps to better grades. In law school, your final grade is solely based on your final exam. So, it’s wise to begin prepping for final exams early. However, if you just start studying for finals, you’ll likely burn out and lose momentum when you should be kicking into high gear (aka mid-November). So, I’m sharing my top three tips that can accompany my three tips to better grades.

  1. Talk about the material with friends and family. Discussing material aloud with other people will allow you to gauge how well you know the material. I had a criminal law TA who said, “I taught the course to my wife. Teaching it to someone who had minimal understanding allowed me to understand the material, find the areas that I didn’t get as well, and solidified my ability to discuss it, which helped the essay portion of the exam.” This advice was some of the best that I received my first year of law school. My sweet mother talked to me for five hours on the phone as I walked through my torts outline. This process was long and tedious, but I knew which areas I needed help with before the exam. Discussing the material with others throughout the semester will kick-start finals review.
  2. Take “reading notes” and “class notes.” Some people do this, but some people only really take reading notes or rely primarily on class notes. Personally, I find having reading notes that I take based on what I think is important from the reading and separate class notes based on what the professor thinks is important allows me to see where I’m missing points or if I’m pulling out the right highlights of the reading. If I’m not, there’s a chance I will miss points on the exam because my professor and I aren’t considering the same facts important. Ninety percent of a law school exam is issue spotting (they make you think it’s analysis. Let me just say: if you don’t spot the issue, you cannot do the analysis). Recognizing how your professor reads or addresses legal issues is key to getting a high grade on the exam.
  3. Outline beginning at the end of October. You’ll hear a lot of different things in terms of outlining. You may even wonder, “what the hell is an outline?” An outline is just what it sounds like — an outline of the course. You go through major concepts, tests, etc. and outline the course as it is taught to you. I prefer outlining later rather than earlier. Some people disagree, which is fine, but I find that whatever I outline last is what I remember most. If you begin too early, it’s not as fresh because you probably won’t look at the beginning of your outline until a week or so before the exam. Outlining later forces you to review early concepts and understand how and where they fit in the whole course (spoiler alert: sometimes outlines are best ordered different than how you learn the material).

How do you prep for class or finals?

Truly,

Callie leigh